Prices listed in CA$ at the bottom of the page.
So let me get this straight: Retailer Audiophile Experts was going to host the Canadian launch of Accuphase’s A-80 amp to commemorate the manufacturer’s 50th anniversary? Chanteuse pianiste and audio show regular Anne Bisson was going to be there, to sing live with instrumental backing provided by a six-figure system? Plus, there would be audio giveaways and a spread of fine chocolates from a local chocolatier and apple-brandy to wash it down? Since I like all those things — Accuphase, Anne, free stuff, chocolate, and liquor — how could I say no?
I didn’t. And that’s what I like about Audiophile Experts and wish more audio stores would do. Create soirées! Entice! Bring the goods! Build a community! And by doing those things, Audiophile Experts is nurturing bonds of friendship and loyalty. It’s smart, but it’s smart from the heart. Spend a minute with the owner, Philippe Renaud, or his gracious wife, Sylvie, or the store’s enduring staff members Mathieu and Stacy, the latter an avowed Accupase super-fan who admitted going into a funk when his store sold its Accuphase demo system — and it’ll become obvious: they love what they do. And they’re good at it.
Also in attendance were my friends Peter and Dylan from company Motet, Canadian distributor for Accuphase and other fine brands, 30 or so invitees, and, of course, the aforementioned Anne Bisson, co-star of the evening along with the Accuphase A-80.
A word about Anne Bisson. She is a national treasure. One of us. An artist who, like another of our national treasures, cellist Vincent Bélanger (Anne and Vincent made a record together), makes music for the world but hangs with the audiophile crowd, as she did here, when she chatted with us and sang us her songs — sublimely, I might add. Anne even got into sound; her albums all sound great, but perhaps none more so than her cut-by-Bernie-Grundman, Direct-to-Disc record, Four Seasons In Jazz Live At Bernie‘s.
Good thing then that we had a state-of-the-art system on which to play it on. That system consisted of a string of Accuphase products — the C-2300 preamp, DP-570 CD/SACD player, C-47 phono stage — along with a Stable 33.33’s 33.2 Mk2 turntable fitted with an André Thériault Black Beauty tonearm and an Accuphase AC-6 phono cartridge, a pair of Focal Scala Utopia Evo speakers, and cables by Luna Cables from their Rouge and Noir series.
Oh, and let’s not forget the other co-star—the new 50th anniversary A-80 stereo amplifier, a MOSFET-based, class-A amplifier that’s a stereo version of the 50th anniversary A-300 monoblocs. The A-80 replaces the A-75, besting it in power (65Wpc vs 60Wpc) and higher capacitance (240,000μF vs 200,000μF).
And in case you don’t think 65Wpc is enough, allow me to share my impressions. Playing Anne Bisson’s latest album, which includes a mix of vocals and small-scale orchestration, I heard sound that seemed super-fast, effortless, macro-dynamically unconstrained, and punchy and full. I heard no lack of power. It was the opposite.
On the more delicate sonic side of things, the amp brimmed with micro-dynamic information and offered a transparent view on the proceedings. The sound was sweet, colourful, rich-toned, extended at both extremes, and produced authentic timbres and a spaciously layered, dimensional soundstage. The A-80, in the context of this system, sounded wonderful.
If I could afford it, I’d think about buying it. Until then, I’ll stick with visiting Audiophile Experts whenever they have one of their sophisticated listening soirées, where I always feel welcome and get to hear great-sounding music.
- Accuphase A-80 amplifier – $27,999
- Accuphase C-2300 preamp – $14,999
- Accuphase DP-570 CD/SACD player – $14,999
- Accuphase C-47 phono stage – $12,999
- Accuphase AC-6 phono cartridge – $7499
- Stable 33.33’s 33.2 Mk2 turntable – $13,900
- André Thériault Black Beauty tonearm – $8500
- Focal Scala Utopia Evo speakers – $68,998/pair
- Luna Cables ($various)